Breakthroughs in fuel cell programs and affordable natural gas prices are prompting the U.S. Department of Energy to take another look at hydrogen powered vehicles. In 2009, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, suggested cutting back funding to the Energy Department budge for hydrogen fuel cell research because the technology did not have an efficient way of storing and distributing the product. A closed door subcommittee meeting of the department’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee, (HTAC) is changing his mind. According to Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for the department, the cost of hydrogen production alone can be cut in half. The only challenge is getting enough stations to meet the needs of the consumer.
Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have the potential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower harmful emissions that cause climate change. FCVs run on hydrogen gas and emit no harmful tailpipe emissions. Automakers like Daimler, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda plan to start commercial production of fuel-cell cars in 2015, but say that lack of a widespread refueling network is the biggest obstacle to public adoption of these vehicles.